NBA 2K17 is hot off the presses, and it features all-time teams from some of the top college programs. Connecticut was one of the 10 squads included, and the Huskies’ roster boasts players who were college standouts and successful pros.
UConn has an extensive pool of talent to choose from, and the creators of 2K17 put together a versatile roster. However, there were a couple of questionable inclusions and exclusions. Today’s Fastbreak’s Michael Wonsover noted that the creators of the game likely required contractual agreements from players to appear in it, which may have prevented 2K17 from putting together the optimal unit.
Here is a glimpse at 2K17’s all-time Connecticut squad, which is littered with stars that coach Jim Calhoun groomed:
In our critique of the 2K17 team, we assess the players’ success at both the college and NBA level.
Emeka Okafor, PF/C (UConn 2001-04, NBA 2004-2013)
There must be a legal/technicality reason 2K17 left Okafor off the list. He has a robust college resume and a strong professional profile, complete with an NCAA title and NBA Rookie of the Year honors. Okafor ruled the paint during his time in Storrs, leading the country in blocks and finishing as the Big East’s all-time blocks leader. The 6’10” behemoth’s two-way efficiency propelled the Huskies to the 2004 national crown.
Okafor wasn’t as dominant in the Association as he was in college, and his pro career seemed somewhat disappointing after such a decorated NCAA stint. However, he was an imposing interior presence who averaged a double-double in each of his first five years in the league. Okafor also redirected a bunch of shots during his nine-year career, included 2.6 per game in 2007.
Who Okafor should replace: Jeff Adrien– Although Adrien had a solid career at UConn, he couldn’t shoot efficiently enough to carve out a consistent role in the NBA.
Ben Gordon, PG/SG (UConn 2001-04, NBA 2004-2015)
Gordon’s absence is almost as painfully obvious as Okafor’s because he filled up the hoop at both levels. After shooting his way to stardom and championship glory at UConn, he enjoyed a prolific NBA career. He hasn’t played since 2015, but he’s attempting an NBA comeback via Europe.
UConn reaped the benefits of Gordon’s dual-threat production. Three-point shooting was his greatest asset (career 42 percent from distance), but he also attacked off the bounce and created for teammates (4.1 assists per game). In the NBA, his playing style was similar, although he was even more of a shooter. Gordon tallied 18-plus points per game during three different seasons for the Chicago Bulls, and his career three-point mark is 40 percent. He also has a unique place in history by becoming the first rookie to win Sixth Man of the Year.
Who Gordon should replace: Shabazz Napier- Napier had an outstanding UConn career that culminated with his leadership of the 2014 title run, but his NBA exploits have been uneventful. For now, we’ll keep him off the 2K17 team because his NBA production is far worse than any other player included.
The rest of the squad
Here is the rest of the team that 2K17 put together, along with a quick breakdown of why each player deserved his spot.
Kemba Walker, PG (UConn 2008-2011, NBA 2011-present)
Walker’s career as a Husky didn’t start spectacularly, but it ended with fireworks. He was seemingly unguardable during Connecticut’s underdog run through the Big East and NCAA Tourneys in 2011. When the dust settled, Walker averaged 23.5 points, 4.5 assists and 5.4 rebounds in 2010-11.
He slashed his way to a star role for the Charlotte Hornets for the past five seasons and has made a couple of playoff appearances. Walker is coming off a career year in 2015-16: he posted 20.9 points and 5.2 assists per game, plus 37 percent three-point shooting.
Richard Hamilton, SG (UConn 1996-99, NBA 1999-2013)
“Rip” Hamilton is a shoe-in for UConn’s All-NBA team due to his production and postseason success at both levels. After earning back-to-back Big East Conference Player of the Year trophies and anchoring the Huskies’ 1999 crown, he went on to flummox Eastern Conference opponents for 14 years. Hamilton’s off-ball craftiness and shooting accuracy were integral to the Detroit Pistons’ back-to-back NBA Finals appearances and 2004 title.
Ray Allen, SG (UConn 1993-96, NBA 1996-2014)
Speaking of off-ball weapons, Allen became a UConn and NBA legend with one of the prettiest jumpers anyone’s seen. He’s had the most magnificent NBA career of any Husky, pouring in a league-record 2,793 triples en route to 10 All-Star nods and two championships.
Rudy Gay, SF (UConn 2004-06, NBA 2006-present)
Gay is probably the most electrifying wing athlete UConn has to offer. The 6’8″ slasher dazzled Huskies fans for a couple of years before taking his spring-loaded attack to the Association. He’s piled up 18-plus points per game in eight different seasons with the Grizzlies, Raptors and Kings.
Andre Drummond, C (UConn 2011-12, NBA 2012-present)
Every All-Star team needs a tower in the paint. Enter Drummond, who’s done nothing but crush rims and gobble up rebounds since his freshman year at Storrs. He was a one-and-done prospect who quickly became the centerpiece of the Pistons’ rebuilding process. In 2015-16, he racked up 16.2 points and a staggering 14.8 rebounds per game.
Donyell Marshall, PF (UConn 1991-1994, NBA 1994-2009)
Marshall was a terrific power forward in college and the pros because he filled up the hoop, crashed the boards and protected the rim. He earned Big East Player of the Year honors in 1994 and translated his talents into a 15-year NBA career. His scoring touch from inside and out made him dangerous even after his athleticism waned.
Caron Butler, SF (UConn 2000-02, NBA 2002-present)
Calhoun churned out yet another Big East Player of the Year and NBA All-Star in Butler. His smooth shooting, strength and aggressive playing style yielded stat-stuffing results at UConn and with the Washington Wizards. At his peak, Butler posted 20-plus points, six-plus rebounds and four-plus assists per contest.
Charlie Villanueva, PF (UConn 2003-05, NBA 2005-present)
It was clear early on that Villanueva would excel in college and beyond. Few 6’11” teenagers are as skilled as he was, and he took those talents to the NBA after just two years in Connecticut. Villanueva carved out a fruitful, if unspectacular role with the Bucks, Pistons and Mavericks with his perimeter shooting and interior physicality.
Jeremy Lamb, SG/SF (UConn 2010-2012, NBA 2012-present)
Lamb might be the least-potent player that we kept on the team. However, he was no slouch for UConn; he won a championship as a freshman and tallied 17.7 points per game on 48 percent shooting as a sophomore. Lamb also just enjoyed his best NBA season thus far, notching 8.8 points per contest off the Hornets’ bench.
Cliff Robinson, SF/PF/C, (UConn 1985-89, NBA 1989-2007)
Few college and NBA forwards matched up well against Robinson because he could cripple you in a variety of ways. His bag of tricks included post-up turnarounds, running hooks, quick drives and outside shots. That’s why Robinson was a key cog for playoff-bound teams in 17 of his 18 seasons.